The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring was a race of two very different halves: until well into the night, the 210,000 spectators got to see a thrilling race at the Nordschleife in excellent outside conditions, in which the Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars established themselves in the front-running group from the outset. From the halfway point onwards, storm, thunderstorm and rain that continued until the end caused dramatic situations and added even more tension. Eventually, the sports car brands Mercedes-AMG and Porsche staged a duel for victory in a thrilling finish.
Having started from fourth place on the grid, the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON was among the frontrunners right away. During the night, Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Maro Engel (GER), Manuel Metzger (GER) and Dirk Müller (GER) took the lead and extended it considerably. Moreover, the erstwhile second-placed team incurred a tine penalty. Wit 3:30 hours remaining, the race was interrupted due to increasingly deteriorating visibility.
The advantage was lost due to the restart behind the safety car and the only remaining rival that was still on the same lap as the leading Mercedes-AMG GT3 was able to put final driver Adam Christodoulou under pressure straight away. One hour before the end of the race, Christodoulou finally had to let the Porsche past. On a rain-soaked track, the leaders staged some more thrilling duels for victory. As the race went on, however, Christodoulou shifted his focus on safely bringing second place home.
Behind the leading duo, the #5 of the Mercedes-AMG Teams BLACK FALCON came out on top in the battle for the remaining podium slot. At the restart for the remainder of the race, the car driven by Yelmer Buurman (NED), Thomas Jäger (GER), Jan Seyffarth (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER) was in fifth place. Final driver Buurman first overtook the #6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 and with half an hour remaining also found a way past the Aston Martin that was in front of him with a strong driving performance. After 135 laps, the Dutchman completed the double podium finish for Mercedes-AMG and BLACK FALCON.
With the #6 Mercedes-AMG, final driver Hubert Haupt was no longer able to play a role in the battle for the podium. Half an hour after the restart, he lost his temporary third position. At the finish, the Customer Racing car that, next to Haupt, also had Nico Bastian (GER), Erik Johansson (SWE) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) as its drivers, was classified fifth. The #16 Landgraf Motorsport entry rounded out the strong team performance of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with tenth place overall for Sebastian Asch (GER), Kenneth Heyer (GER), Edward Sandström (SWE) and Tristan Vautier (FRA).
In the 24-hour race, the two Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER had bad luck. During the night, the #47 with Dominik Baumann (AUT), Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Edoardo Mortara (ITA) and Renger van der Zande (NED) retired from third place after an accident. The team’s #48 dropped back considerably due to repair breaks: Indy Dontje (NED), Maximilian Götz (GER), Christian Hohenadel (GER) and double starter Renger van der Zande still finished 17th after a brilliant recovery.
The debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the Nürburgring 24-hour race was a very successful affair. In the SP8T class, the #190 (Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy) with Jethro Bovingdon (GBR), Christian Gebhardt, Bernd Schneider and Patrick Simon (all GER) scored a dominant class win with a margin of nine laps. The quartet finished in a considerable 22nd place overall. In the SP10 class, the new race car from Affalterbach scored a 1-2 straight away. The BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA completed 116 laps: first place for Carlos Gomez (USA), Stefan Karg (GER), Fidel Leib (GER) and Kim-Luis Schramm (GER). Second place in class went to Jochen Herbst (GER), Daniel Schwerfeld (GER), Domenico Solombrino (ITA) and Christian Stingu (GER) for Mathol Racing e.V..
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4: “ Many thanks to the entire BLACK FALCON team and to my team-mates. They have all put in a super performance. Also to Adam, who has tried everything once more at the end while under the greatest pressure. Of course, we tremendously would have liked to win this race. It is too bad that we lost the margin we had established because of the interruption and the subsequent equalisation. Over the 24 hours, we were perhaps the fastest, but not in the final sprint race after the restart. Nevertheless, it is a very emotional podium finish for me.”
Dirk Müller, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4: “On one hand, I am disappointed, but on the other hand, I am delighted. At the end of the day, I am super happy with second place and proud of the entire team. At the end, Yelmer has done a super job in moving up into third place. Two podium finishes with second and third place and fifth place for the number 6 car, that is an outstanding result for the entire team.”
Thomas Jäger, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #5: “Of course, we are really delighted with our third place. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has proven its durability and reliability once again. Two Mercedes-AMG teams on the podium is a great result. But also a huge compliment and congratulations to Porsche, that was also a very strong achievement.”
Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #5: “ During his stint at the end, Yelmer has done an unbelievable job. He closed the gap, he has overtaken and has claimed third place. We are really happy, also for our colleagues in the #4. Now, we have every reason to celebrate!”
Nico Bastian, BLACK FALCON #6: “Too bad, we were third prior to the interruption. The gaps were equalised. That was our disadvantage. In the three-way battle for the podium, we didn’t have any luck. On the other hand, fifth place in such a race is also an incredibly great success and I am really happy with that.”
Kenneth Heyer, Landgraf Motorsport #16: “We are super happy with our position. Conditions were extremely difficult, chaotic and challenging to drive. The car, however, worked perfectly. The team was great.”
Patrick Simon, Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy #190: “That was a great project connected with many emotions. Being allowed to drive together with the legend that is Bernd Schneider, that was mega! We had a lot of fun and a great result as well. 22nd place, excellent. Commentating and driving was a bit stressful, but that is the stuff that heroes are made of.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “That was a hot battle until the very end. We had chosen good strategies that appeared to work out as well. In terms of safety, the interruption was entirely justified, but unfortunately, it worked against us. The fact that, in spite of the turbulent end, there were two podium finishes, four top ten results and two class wins for the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 is a great achievement. A big compliment to everyone who has contributed to this. Had it not been for the perfect co-operation of all the individual teams, this success wouldn’t have been possible. My congratulations to Manthey Racing and Porsche on this deserved win.”
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “Congratulations to Porsche on victory in this captivating final dash. Our teams and our drivers have put in a very strong performance in these extremely difficult conditions. We have seen a great team achievement that also reflects our AMG spirit. Once again, we have shown the potential of our Mercedes-AMG GT3. To win in such weather conditions also requires the necessary bit of racing luck. But having two cars from Affalterbach on the podium is a great success. That the first outing of our new Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the 24-hour race here ended up into two impressive class victories is also the reward for the meticulous development work.”